NEW YORK: Oil prices ended 3% higher on Friday at fresh seven-year highs as escalating fears of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a top energy producer, added to concerns over tight global crude supplies. Russia has massed enough troops near Ukraine to launch a major invasion, Washington said, as it urged all U.S. citizens to leave the country within 48 hours.
Britain also advised its nationals to leave Ukraine as Prime Minister Boris Johnson impressed the need for NATO allies to make it absolutely clear that there will be a heavy package of economic sanctions ready to go, should Russia invade Ukraine. Brent crude futures settled US$3.03, or 3.3%, higher at $94.44 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose $3.22, or 3.6%, to $93.10 a barrel.
Both benchmarks touched their highest since late 2014, surpassing the record highs hit on Monday, and posted their eighth consecutive week of gains on growing concerns about global supplies as demand recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Trading volumes spiked in the last hour of trading, with volumes for global benchmark Brent climbing to their highest in more than two months. "The market doesn't want to be short going into the weekend... if an invasion appears to be imminent and you know that there will be retaliatory sanction that will result in a disruption in natural gas and oil supplies," Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston. The International Energy Agency raised its 2022 demand forecast and expects global demand to expand by 3.2 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, reaching an all-time record 100.6 million bpd. The energy watchdog's report follows the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' warning earlier this week that world oil demand might rise even more steeply this year on a strong post-pandemic economic recovery. The IEA added that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could help to calm volatile oil markets if they pumped more crude, adding that the OPEC+ alliance produced 900,000 bpd below target in January. The two OPEC producers have the most spare production capacity and could help to relieve dwindling global oil inventories that have been among factors pushing prices towards $100 a barrel, deepening inflation worldwide. The Biden administration responded to high prices by again stating this week that it has been talking with large producers about more output, as well as the possibility of additional strategic releases from large consumers, as it did late last year. Indirect U.S.-Iran nuclear talks resumed this week after a 10-day break. A deal could see the lifting of sanctions on Iranian oil and ease supply tightness. In the United States, drillers added the most oil rigs in a week in four years, with the rig count, an indicator of future production, rising 19 to 516, its highest since April 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said.- Reuters
By Alex Longley+Follow February 17, 2022, 3:52 AM GMT+8
Forget the futures market, the world’s most important oil price just smashed through $100 a barrel with every sign it is going to push higher. Dated Brent, the price of cargoes bought and sold in the North Sea, reached $100.80 a barrel on Wednesday for the first time since 2014, according to S&P Global Platts, the company that publishes the marker. Price spreads in the futures market are pointing to one the tightest markets ever.....
MOSCOW, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine after recognising them as independent on Monday, accelerating a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war. A Reuters witness saw tanks and other military hardware moving through the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk after Putin issued a decree recognising the breakaway regions and told Russia's defence ministry to send in forces to "keep the peace". The moves drew U.S. and European condemnation and vows of new sanctions although it was unclear whether it was Putin's first major step toward a full-scale offensive in Ukraine that Western governments have warned about for weeks. A senior U.S. official said the deployment to breakaway enclaves already controlled by separatists loyal to Moscow did not yet constitute a "further invasion" that would trigger the harshest sanctions, but that a wider military campaign could come at any time. There was no word on the size of the force Putin was dispatching, but the decree said Russia now had the right to build military bases in the breakaway regions. In a lengthy televised address packed with grievances against the West, a visibly angry Putin described Ukraine as an integral part of Russia's history and said eastern Ukraine was ancient Russian lands. Russian state television showed Putin, joined by Russia-backed separatist leaders, signing a decree recognising the independence of the two Ukrainian breakaway regions - the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic - along with agreements on cooperation and friendship. Defying Western warnings against such a move, Putin had announced his decision in phone calls to the leaders of Germany and France earlier, the Kremlin said. Moscow's action may well torpedo a last-minute bid for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine, which the senior U.S. official said was now in doubt. Oil jumped to a seven-year high, safe-havens currencies like the yen rallied and U.S. stock futures dived as Europe's eastern flank stood on the brink of war. The rouble extended its losses as Putin spoke, at one point sliding beyond 80 per dollar. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who received a solidarity call from Biden, accused Russia of wrecking peace talks and ruled out territorial concessions in an address to the nation early on Tuesday. Biden, who also spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz, quickly signed an executive order to halt all U.S. business activity in the breakaway regions and ban import of all goods from those areas. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the measures were separate from sanctions the United States and its allies have been readying if Russia invades Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the executive order "is designed to prevent Russia from profiting off of this blatant violation of international law." The U.N. Security Council was due to meet publicly on Ukraine at 9 p.m. EST Monday (0200 GMT on Tuesday), a Russian diplomat said, following a request by the United States, Britain and France. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's spokesman said Germany, France and the United States had agreed to respond with sanctions, while British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said Britain would announce new sanctions on Tuesday. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of "trying to stage a pretext" for a further invasion. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. In his address, Putin delved into history as far back as the Ottoman empire and as recent as the tensions over NATO's eastward expansion. His demands that Ukraine drop its long-term goal of joining the Atlantic military alliance have been repeatedly rebuffed by Kyiv and NATO states. With his decision to recognise the breakaway regions, Putin brushed off Western warnings. "I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago - to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic," Putin said. A French presidential official said the speech "mixed various considerations of a rigid and paranoid nature".
DIPLOMATIC WINDOW NARROWS Putin has for years worked to restore Russia's influence over nations that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Ukraine holding an important place in his ambitions. Russia denies any plan to attack its neighbour, but it has threatened unspecified "military-technical" action unless it receives sweeping security guarantees, including a promise that Ukraine will never join NATO. Recognition of the separatist-held areas will narrow the diplomatic options to avoid war, since it is an explicit rejection of a seven-year-old ceasefire mediated by France and Germany. Separately, Moscow said Ukrainian military saboteurs had tried to enter Russian territory in armed vehicles leading to five deaths, an accusation dismissed as "fake news" by Kyiv. Those developments fit a pattern repeatedly predicted by Western governments, who have accused Russia of preparing to fabricate a pretext to invade by blaming Kyiv for attacks and relying on pleas for help from separatist proxies. Washington says Russia has massed a force numbering 169,000-190,000 troops in the region, including the separatists in the breakaway regions, and has warned of invasion at any moment.
MOSCOW/KYIV, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its south coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east. Shortly after Putin spoke in a televised address on Russian state TV, explosions could be heard in the pre-dawn quiet of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Gunfire rattled near the capital's main airport, the Interfax news agency said, and sirens were heard over the city.
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